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Back in the days, I would do monthly favourites, sharing with you my top discoveries of each month. I quickly realized that that was not sustainable, at least not for me. With a testing period of four to six weeks, I just didn’t discover enough products to warrant a blog post.
So I switched to yearly favorites, sharing with you my best skin care product discoveries of the passing year. And still had to make compromises: Maybe no serum would stand out to me that year, so what was I supposed to do: Skip the category or show you the second best pick?
Not an option.
So this year I am going to try a new approach that I shamelessly copied from YouTube: A list of my best skin care products of 2019, or: What I would use to rebuild my routine if I had to right at this moment, no matter when I first discovered the individual product.
And then, next year, we can compare and see if something got replaced.
Best cleansers of 2019
You didn’t think I would pick just one cleanser here, did you? That is virtually impossible. I need to mention three. One for precleanse with makeup removal, one for night time and one for morning cleanse.
Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm
Probably the oldest item I am going to mention here, as this cleanser has been with me even before I started blogging. It is gentle, effective, fragrance free and reasonably priced, I really can’t fault it.
The Inkey List Oil and Water Double Cleanser
Straight after the oldest item, I am going to introduce the newest one: The biphasic cleanser by The Inkey List. I purchased mine in October, gifted it to the son of a friend and missed it so much that I needed to immediately repurchase.
Why? Because this cleanser is gentle on my skin in the winter, really hydrating, but at the same time rinses without residue and leaves my skin feeling clean and fresh.
The only (minor) issues you could have are that you need to rinse the sink after usage, otherwise it can leave orange dots, and that it struggles with waterproof makeup. Not a problem though if you use the Clinique Balm first!
pixi Rose Cream Cleanser
Not a cream cleanser at all, but a very gentle clay cleanser, this is my favorite pick for the mornings. It is not drying, but really useful if in the summertime you wake up with sweat already glistening on your face – sexy, I know.
I do use it in the colder months too, only if my skin feels particularly dry I will skip it and go for above mentioned The Inkey List cleanser instead.
Best face mist/ toner of 2019
Just to be clear, you don’t need a toner or face mist to have a good skincare routine. I talk more about their use in skincare here, but even if I don’t think you need them, I still enjoy them a lot.
pixi Rose Glow Mist
The lighter sister of pixis famous Glow Mist, this one is much better suited for combination/ oily skintypes. I use it as skin care step rather than finishing mist, but both would work fine – the skin care benefits you get from misting your face are neglectible.
Pixi Milky Tonic
That was a hard pick, as I do love the pixi Rose Tonic almost as much, but the Milky Tonic wins as soon as it is cold outside – it is currently freezing, so that might have influenced the decision a little.
With a slight bubblegum scent, this Tonic aims to soothe and hydrate, and for me this extra layer makes a huge difference in the way my skin feels.
The best serums of 2019
Again, I can’t leave you with just one option. I blame that on my age – I just need different things and despite all the claims, no one serum can ever do it all for me.
The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum
This is hands down the best hydrating serum I have ever encountered. It is not sticky, really hydrating and contains added peptides to help promote collagen production while being very affordable.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
Niacinamide is the one ingredient that does a little bit of everything, and paired with Zinc it helps to balance my oily t-zone and prevent breakouts while keeping the rest of my skin hydrated. If your skin is dry, using Niacinamide without Zinc is probably the better option, but for blemish prone and slightly oily skin this one is perfection.
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair
I can’t really pin point what it is about this serum that makes me go back time and time again, the best explanation I can give is that if I don’t know what my skin needs, this serum will make it happy.
It is a little hydration, a little brightening, a little antioxidants, and once applied leaves my skin feeling better without me being able to tell why.
pixi Vitamin C Serum
Another fairly new discovery, but one that I can foresee being in my rotation for a long time is this pixi serum. It contains L-Ascorbic Acid, the best researched for of Vitamin C, brought to you in combination with Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid and in a very elegant and lightweight formula.
Yes, the packaging could be better, and yes, it does oxidize pretty easily, but for me it is the best Vitamin C serum out there.
The Inkey List Collagen
Against what the name might lead you to believe, this does not contain hydrolized collagen, but peptides that claim to increase collagen production. (Read more about peptides in skincare here)
At my age, anything that might help firm the skin is very welcome, so I have been using either this one or The Ordinary Buffet as add on in my routine. If it helps? I have no means to tell, it is preventative, but it is affordable enough to not let me care too much.
Zelens Power D Treatment Drops
It is not actually a serum, but I hesitate to call it face oil despite its rather oily texture. Very expensive, but a life saver for me when using prescription retinoids. I use it instead of a serum, before applying my tretinoin and I swear it makes a huge difference. (I talk more about it in my Evening skincare routine with Tretinoin here). Despite the price I have already repurchased – twice!
The best moisturizer of 2019
After bombarding you with serums, I am going to keep this list short and simple. Moisturizers are my least favorite skincare category, and to find one that excites me so much that I want to repurchase is actually a rare thing.
Murad Nutrient Charged Water Gel
My summer option, a lightweight pink toned blend that contains ceramides, peptides and Niacinamide. Yes, it also contains fragrance and dye and isn’t always easy to layer, but I am willing to forgive all that because I just love how it performs on my skin.
pixi Rose Ceramide Cream
This is not, as the name would have you believe, a lotion. No, it actually is a really nourishing cream, and one that I adore in the colder months. Ceramides and Centella Asiatica are two of the special ingredients added, while shea butter works to keep the skin soft.
The best eye cream of 2019
No, you don’t need to have an eye cream in your routine. Yes, I still use one religiously. One in the mornings and one at night.
The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Serum
No surprises here, you all know how much I love this little tube. The Caffeine helps to depuff my eyes in the mornings, the peptides keep my undereyes firm and the lightweight yet hydrating texture makes any concealer applied on top sit smoothly.
And yes, I use it as cream, not as serum underneath.
Instytutum Anti-Wrinkle Brightening Eye Cream
The complete opposite of the price spectrum, this version from Insytutum contains Retinol and is much more nourishing than the one by The Inkey List, which is why I reserve it for night time use.
As with everything it is hard to tell if something is actually worth so much money. Whenever I stop using it though, because I am testing something else, I get comments on how tired I look. That alone is enough for me to keep going back to it.
The best SPF of 2019
ISDIN Fusion Water SPF 50+
This category hasn’t seen a change in five years, I still adore the lightweight offer from ISDIN more than any other sunscreens I have tried. 2019 was the year that I tested their paediatrics version, which gets a lot of hype online, but to be honest I couldn’t see a difference in how they performed on my skin.
The missing categories
You might have noticed that I don’t list a favorite face oil nor a favorite face mask. The reason for that is fairly simple: While I use them occasionally, I sometimes go weeks without even thinking about them, so I wouldn’t call them an integral part in my routine, and I wouldnt want to show you a product that I am not genuinely excited about.
If you do love and regularly use them though, drop me some suggestions below, maybe you can change my mind!
Your turn: What is your holy grail skincare routine made up of?